My younger friend (!) turns 49 this week so has been ribbed mercilessly by me about how close to a half century she is. The irony isn’t lost on me that I’ve already passed that magnificent marker of when life does truly begin.
We seem to have got into a bit of a tradition of celebrating our birthdays with a Bangkok staycation; this year was no exception. We decided to treat ourselves. After supposedly just meeting for coffee, I surprised her with a home-from-home night at the Sheraton Grande. The treats included eating ourselves silly at Mrs Balbir’s Indian restaurant, enjoying a cake sent up to the hotel room (they seem to recognize the annual event!), amusingly decorated with a Happy ‘Belated’ Birthday decoration (it’s actually three days before the event!), the metaphorical opening of small gifts (I didn’t use wrapping paper this year in a quest to care for the planet – though I’m not sure if wrapping paper matters anymore or if it is all about plastic reduction), a pedicure, a jaunt to Rivercity Bangkok to see the ‘From Monet to Kandinsky’ exhibition’, which was brilliant if you are local and haven’t seen it, and finally a trip to listen to ‘Pictures at An Exhibition’ by the Thai Philharmonic orchestra, which was also fantastic. (More culture in a day than I usually experience in six months!)
Driving in Thailand
Driving in Thailand and exams - a strange link!
My daughter has her first IB English exam today so understandably I feel a bit frazzled. My parting advice wasn't the best. I told her if she didn't understand the commentary then to write on the prose, or vice versa. She asked what should she do if she didn't understand either. I said that if she was in that situation then she'd 'had it' or words to that effect. She looked shocked and, on reflection, the advice perhaps wasn’t so helpful! I'm afeared that was pehaps a little too honest as far as reflections go! I decided to focus on driving in Bangkok instead!
Ian McEwan's The Children Act Book Review
I read Ian McEwan's Children Act back in 2014 and wasn't disappointed. At the time I posted a review on goodreads.com, as I am want do. If you are not a member of goodreads I can't recommend it enough for keeping up with what's current, getting book reading suggestions and for using as easy way to keep check of your own reading (required if, like me, you forget everything!)
The central question in The Children Act is whether a 17 year old boy should be forced to have a blood transfusion, which is likely to save his life, but goes against his Jehova's Witnesses' parents' (how do you correctly punctuate that?) beliefs. I revisited the story and the question a couple of weeks ago when I watched the movie (on a flight back to Bangkok). Fiona, the powerful judge in the story, was played brilliantly by Emma Thompson alongside a fantastic cast. The topic is weighty - it doesn't get much bigger than choosing life or death and had me asking all sorts of questions to which I don't have any answers!
Book Review of Sally Rooney's Normal People
It's weird how reading books opens up a whole train of thought and associations that don't tie directly to the plot of the book being read but nevertheless encourage reflection. Sally Rooney's Normal People did just that for me. I was thinking the other day how important relationships that we make during our teens and at universities can be. The impact of either positive or negative friendships we make can resonate years later. Who we are in our late teens, who influences us and why and how, massively impacts who we become.
That's generally what was on my mind as I started reading Sally Rooney's 'Normal People' and the things it made me ponder on during and after were loosely linked to that. The book made me reflect on how little I actually know about my kids' friendships for example. What I do know, shows itself mainly in a fierce desire to protect them, which can be harmful to their personal and social development. It led me to think about friendships that I've had in the past that perhaps went a bit sour and now, for a whole host of reasons, are too late to fix. The book also had me feeling gratitude for connections I've retained and new ones I've formed. For example, I've been privileged to be back in touch with the mum of a friend who passed away when we were younger. So, although 'Normal People' wasn't about any of these things it is interesting to consider how literature shapes our thoughts into some kind of coherency. Perhaps all a good book is, is a fancy form of word and thought association!